Anantnag: Even as Kashmir is hoping for a decent tourist season this summer, after more than half a decade of downward spiral in footfall, Pahalgam continues to remain without a Tourist Reception Centre (TRC), six years after the old TRC was gutted in a blaze.
In 2014, a massive blaze in the main market of this tourist spot, here in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, reduced the TRC to rubble along with some hotels.
Following the fire incident, the then Chief Minister, Mufti Muhamad Sayeed, asked officials to look for an alternate space to construct a new TRC.
Mufti had also said that the old TRC blocked the view of the mountains from Pahalgam market and was not big enough to accommodate a higher number of tourists.
Six years have passed since and nothing whatsoever has been done in this regard. “Neither a new piece of land has been identified not has there been any headway into reconstructing the old one,” a source in the Tourism department said.
He said that the new piece of land was to be identified by the Revenue department, following which the construction would have been allotted to some agency. “But there has been no effort by either the Revenue department or the Tourism department to take matters further in this regard,” the source said.
The old TRC had a sitting area, a cloakroom, and a washroom block where tourists were able to rest a little, while they collected information on their travel from the Tourism authorities.
For the past six years now the Tourism department is running its office from a hut in Nunwan area and a kiosk has been set up at the site of the old TRC, where information is provided to the tourists.
“Unfortunately, there has been no headway into reconstruction of the TRC,” Assistant Director Tourism, Bilal Ahmad, told Kashmir Reader. “While we have a kiosk which serves as an information centre, the TRC is not all about it. There should be other facilities at a TRC, where tourists can relax and feel at ease,” Ahmad said.
Hotel owners and other tourist players in Pahalgam also lament the apathy of the authorities. “What kind of a “world famous tourist resort” does not have a TRC? What impression are we giving to the tourists who arrive here?” asked a hotelier in Pahalgam.
Others also lamented in a similar way. “While the government claims that it is dedicated to reviving the tourist industry in Kashmir, they cannot even construct a TRC. What kind of hosts do we look like when the tourists arrive?” a shopkeeper said while talking to Kashmir Reader.
Meanwhile, Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA) officials have no idea about identification of new land for the TRC. “They can construct a new structure at the old site, but it should be only one storey. The second storey will block the view of the hills,” an official in the PDA told Kashmir Reader, requesting not to be named.
Kashmir Reader tried talking to Assistant Revenue Commissioner (ACR) Anantnag, Syed Yasir, but he did not attend his phone.